Burmese and Chinese Officials Hold Talks Over Shan State Conflict

By The Irrawaddy 25 November 2016

NAYPYIDAW — Burmese and Chinese officials discussed the ongoing fighting in northern Shan State during a meeting in Naypyidaw on Thursday, according to sources in the President’s Office.

Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense spoke with their Chinese counterparts at the meeting. On Friday, a delegation led by the Chinese ambassador to Burma will visit the capital for additional talks.

Since Sunday, an alliance of ethnic armed groups has battled the Burma Army in Muse and Namkham townships, forcing local people to flee their homes. The ethnic armed groups include the Kachin Independence Army (KIA), the Arakan Army (AA), the Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA), and the Ta’ang National Liberation Army (TNLA).

As of Thursday, state media reported 13 deaths from the conflict. Chinese authorities have provided shelter to more than 3,000 displaced Burmese people in Wanding, a border town in China’s Yunnan Province.

The Chinese authorities have complained that heavy artillery shells—fired from Burma—landed and exploded in Chinese territory. The Dehong Dai Border Defense Base, a unit of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), delivered a letter detailing 13 explosions in the area of Wanding and Manghai towns on Nov. 20. According to the PLA letter, all 13 explosions were caused by heavy weapons fired from inside Burma. One Chinese civilian was injured by the shelling.

On Wednesday, the Burma Army responded that it was not responsible for the shells that landed in China. According to a Burma Army investigation, it was ethnic armed groups who fired their weapons in a northerly direction, toward the Chinese border, during an engagement on Nov. 20. Government troops reportedly carried out their counterattacks to the south, firing their weapons away from the border.

The directions of the attacks—one pointing to the north and one to the south—proved that the 13 heavy shell bursts that landed in China were fired by the KIA and MNDAA, the Burma Army reported. The Burma Army alleged that the errant shelling was a scheme organized “by KIA and MNDAA insurgent groups with intent to harm the bilaterally amicable relations and the border peace and stability.”